When I graduated from college, I thought I was the smartest person in the world. But after 6 years of frustrating jobs, I found myself working in the family business. My father paid me more than I could earn elsewhere and I was beginning to believe I had no value. It was a low time in my life because I was beginning to realize I wasn’t as cool or smart as I thought I was.
I had been married 5 years, and my wife tried to get me to go to church regularly, but it was just another place where I had to try to be something I was no good at. My goal was to be the third-to-last person to get into heaven. I didn’t want to be any better than I needed to be. I figured if I was the next to last guy or the last guy, well, that was cutting it too close. So my goal was to be third-to-last.
So I didn’t go to church much. I thought the more I went, the higher up the list I would get. So, I skipped a lot in order to stay where I thought I’d be third to last. But out of work frustration, because my life was miserable, something made me decide to check out church and see if there really was anything to it. So I joined a Sunday School class and a weeknight small group. I’d get involved for a few months and if, after a thorough examination, trying what they suggested, it didn’t make my life better, I would stop going and never go back.
I started making some nice friends and that fall, they had a seminar on how you can, take a pocket bible and show someone else how they could “know for a fact” they were going to Heaven. I decided I needed to attend that so I could learn more about the beliefs of the church.
Friday evening and Saturday, I sat in a huge auditorium, without anyone within about 5 seats of me in any direction. I heard and learned the 4 verses and the illustrations that were part of this presentation. As I did, I realized that there were only two positions for getting into heaven, in or out. The fourth verse in the presentation is Ephesians 2:8-9
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one will boast.”
Because of the work of Jesus, I get to go to Heaven. It’s not about how hard I work. There is no rank order. God didn’t have to create a number of ways to heaven. He made one way that anyone can take, simply by trusting His work to save us. The grace is a free gift when we exercise the faith, and even the faith is given to us by God.
I was blown away. I wondered why no one had shown me this stuff before. I know I became a new person that day, listening to that presentation. My life was changed. There was a new joy to my life, new excitement and new things to look forward to. My friendships took on more meaning and things like drinking and smoking and my own logic seemed less attractive.
But the elation of Saturday and Sunday was deflated by the idea that I had to go back to my job on Monday. I got a pit in my stomach thinking about it. For weeks, I begged God to let me get a new job working with Christians “in ministry.” Only later did I realize God made me a minister in the workplace the day He saved me. I now worked for Him, assigned to my dad’s company to serve people and make Jesus known.
I’ve thought a couple of times about going to work “in ministry” but I keep coming back to the workplace. I know I can make a Godly response to any circumstance and when I do, I’m a minister. I can help anyone I come in contact with draw near to Christ (James 4:7).
So, for 30 years, I’ve tried to be a minister at work. Some days I do better than others. Some day’s I’m able to serve others and be a blessing and other days, we’ll not so much. But I learned there are 4 things I can do every day, to help anyone draw near to Jesus, and I try to do them every day.
- Ask God to use me. Look for the opportunities I get to glorify Him. I want to be intentional and purposeful in what I’m doing and who I’m with. Everyone God brings across my path every day is someone God is working on or with. I want to join God and cooperate however He wants in the life of each person I meet.
- I want to know what I believe. I think about God and what He has done in my life. I know when I get a genuine question about my faith, it will be much less about what the bible says and much more about my experiences and my reasons for believing.
- Take the opportunities when I see them. The opportunities I prayed for in #1 will happen. And they’ll look like service. In Mark 10:45, Jesus says he came to serve others. We should expect no less.
- Speak for myself. When I get the opportunity to speak, I don’t need to tell anyone what to do. I can tell them what I did and what I thought. They remain free to make their own choices.
I’m grateful for how God saved me and how he continues to grow, develop and provide for me and my family. He will do that for you too.